DOWNERS GROVE, IL -- The chief executive of Sara Lee Corp.'s North American business, C.J. Fraleigh, has resigned just months before he would have led half the company following its planned split.
In January, Sara Lee announced plans to separate its international coffee and tea business, CoffeeCo, which includes Senseo and Douwe Egberts, from a North American retail business that will continue under the Sara Lee name and includes the Jimmy Dean and Hillshire Farms brands. | SEE STORY
Sara Lee chief executive Marcel Smits will assume Fraleigh's responsibilities while the company searches for his successor.
Separately, Sara Lee appointed Jan Bennink chairman of CoffeeCo. Bennink joined Sara Lee in January to lead the spinoff process. He is a former chief executive of Royal Numico and held leadership positions at Group Danone, Procter & Gamble and Benckiser GmbH.
Michiel Herkemij, who has led Heineken NV's company's operations in Mexico and Nigeria, was earlier named chief executive of Sara Lee's beverage spinoff.
Last month, Sara Lee reported its fiscal fourth-quarter earnings fell 41%, as its North American retail business saw net sales fall 2.2%. Meanwhile, international beverage sales climbed 24%.
Sara Lee's spinoff is expected to occur in the first half of 2012.